About WhichPlug

About this site

WhichPlug was developed to provide an easy-to-follow guide for travellers or those moving to another country to identify which electrical plug adaptors they will need in order to use their existing appliances at their destination. It is also helpful for those purchasing appliances online from other countries in order to identify the adaptor required, and any other technical considerations.

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About Electrical Plugs and Sockets

Why are there so many different plug and socket types?

Household electricity was introduced at the end of the 1800s. At this time, it was mostly used for lighting, whilst other devices had to be patched directly into the house's wiring as there were no wall sockets as we have today. However, in the early part of the 1900s when more and more domestic appliances were becoming available, manufacturers needed other ways of connecting them to an electricity supply. The problem was that manufacturers in different countries developed their own plugs and sockets, and with appliances not being very portable, and not many people travelling across borders, the need for compatibility across countries was not apparent.

Plug Type N (Standard IEC 60906-1)Attempts were made to standardise plugs in the early 1930s, but plans were shelved until the 1950s due to World War II. After the war, most countries had their electricity infrastructure in place and most companies were focussed on serving their local markets, hence the varying plugs and sockets have remained in place until today. That said, the IEC issued a standard for a universal plug (IEC 60906-1; Plug Type N) in the 1970s, which has been adopted by South Africa and Brazil (albeit a non-compliant version), though it's unlikely other countries would be willing to invest in changing their infrastructure when there are hundreds of millions of plugs and sockets installed worldwide.